The Gospel for this Sunday is Lk 2:16-21
1. A word of introduction
Both the shepherds and Mary were the first by Jesus’ side after his birth. In their attitudes, we see some similarities but also differences. These attitudes are not mutually exclusive but complementary.
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem
It is where we see the similarity between the shepherds’ attitude and that of Mary. As soon as the Angel told them of the birth of the Messiah, they hurriedly went to Bethlehem. Mary reacted similarly, to the news from the Angel that Elizabeth was expecting a son; she went to her with haste. When a child is born, both Mary and the shepherds want to be close and help.
[The shepherds] made known the message that had been told them about this child.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
Here we see different approaches to the situation. The shepherds spread to others what they had heard and seen. As a result, others learned and could come to Jesus. Mary, meanwhile, pondered all that was happening deep in her heart.
The Greek original uses two verbs here: “syntereo” and “symballo.” “Syntereo” means to preserve, to guard something. “Symballo” refers to deliberating and reflecting on something. Mary kept various events in her mind and tried to see their meaning in God’s light.
Both the shepherds’ and Mary’s attitudes are good. They are attuned to their life situations and are responding to God’s call.
Each of us has a role to play and we have different tasks in life. I may sometimes be closer to Mary’s attitude, or the attitude of shepherds. Our response to God’s invitation may be very diverse. Different behaviors complement each other. What matters most is our evangelical attitude, and our readiness to do God’s will.